Don’t let the e-Santa fool you

11/23/2015

Here is a Christmas present from the Nordic ECC offices – our collection of the best advice to avoid trouble while purchasing this year’s Christmas gifts online.

Overview of man ordering Christmas presents online.

About a quarter of all Christmas gifts are purchased online, and in general is e-commerce a great way to compare prizes and get the most for your money.

But keep in mind that while the internet is a goldmine for finding bargains and treasures, it is also a playground for conniving traders where lack of criticism and reason can leave you in misery. Not all websites are reliable; some are created with the purpose just to fraud consumers. 

Therefore, the clever minds of the ECC offices in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have gathered their top tips to guide Nordic consumers who plan to search for the best Christmas gift shops online – rather than in their local commerce street.

STEP 1: Make sure that the website is secure

1. Search for background

A trader’s website can appear Swedish without being so. Even if the language is in Swedish and it ends with .se – it isn’t definitely so. It might be a fraud website located somewhere else, perhaps in China, which means that consumers shopping on the website won’t be covered by EU consumer protection. You can examine who owns the website and in which country it is registered on the website who.is

2. Is the website safe?

You have to make sure that you are on a safe website before you consider to make a purchase. Look for the small symbol of a locked padlock in the lower right corner of the browser window or check that the url starts with https://

3. Look for references

It’s a good idea to make a search for the trader’s name on a search engine, e.g. Google. This may give you an idea of what other consumers have experienced with the trader, for example through consumer ratings. However, be aware that ratings are not always reliable, as they can be falsified. You may also check for official certifications and trust-marks, e.g. Trygg e-handel and Certifierad e-handel, that shows if the trader comply with the regulations.

4. Can you make contact with the trader?

Who is the trader? What information is available about the company behind the website? It is crucial that you can find contact information – preferably a physical address but as a minimum an email address and a telephone number. If it is not visible on the website, the trader might have something to hide. The website should also state how to send a complaint. 

STEP 2: How to pay safely online

1. Credit cards are safer

Always pay with a credit card. This way you have a realistic possibility to get your money back when a trader does not respect your consumer rights.

2. Protect your computer

Make sure that your anti-virus protection and firewall are correctly installed and up-to-date before you pay, to avoid getting hacked.

3. Keep your payment details safe 

Do not hand out your card number or any other financial information for purposes other than purchase, and never send this information via e-mail.  Check that the website has a privacy policy that confirms that your data will be treated securely.

4. Payment intermediary services

There are a number of secure remittance services available online, which acts as a payment intermediary. This might be a good idea if you want to purchase something expensive, but unfortunately there are many scammers around which pretend to be a remittance service. Hence, the advice is to do steady research before you decide to use this service. 

STEP 3: If something goes wrong – try chargeback

1. In which cases are you entitled to chargeback?

You may be entitled to get chargeback if you have a monetary claim against the trader:

  • If you have correctly exercised your right of withdrawal
  • The goods you have paid for aren’t delivered or only partially delivered
  • If the goods are not in conformity with the order and you have the right to have the contract rescinded.
  • In case of the traders bankruptcy

2. What is chargeback?

If a trader won’t pay back the money that you’ve paid for the product or service, your bank may help you in many cases. This is regulated in directive 2008/48/EC on credit agreements for consumers.

3. You must have paid with a credit card

In order to receive chargeback it is a requirement that you have paid with a credit card. The rules doesn’t apply if you have transferred the money with a bank transaction or paid otherwise.

4. How you should proceed

Before claiming chargeback from the lending bank/creditor, you must first complain to the trader. If you get a negative response or no response at all from the trader, you can turn to the bank. Don’t forget to keep copies of your conversation with the trader, in order to be able to present complete documentation to the bank. 

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ECC Sweden provides support to consumers shopping and travelling within the EU, Norway and Iceland. ECC Sweden is part of the Swedish Consumer Agency and the European Consumer Centres Network, ECC-Net, which in turn is funded by the European Commission.